Hinchcliffe qualified for the middle of the Front Row. The driver from Toronto showed a remarkable ability to overcome what could have been a serious injury when he was nailed in the helmet by the end plate off Justin Wilson’s front wing in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
“To think about the fact a week ago I wasn’t allowed to operate a cell phone,” Hinchcliffe said. “Today I’m whipping an IndyCar around IMS at 230 something miles an hour is pretty incredible. It’s only because of so many people, everything from the doctors, my family taking care of me at home, all my teammates who did such a good job getting these cars ready. I jumped in Friday, one run, look where we ended up.
“The thing was a handful. I was working pretty hard for it. Into turn three on the last lap, it stepped out on entry a little bit, I had to take some wheel out of it, made for some understeer on exit. You don’t have time for correction. I knew I had to crack the throttle. I was screaming in my helmet down the frontstretch.
“Congratulations to Ed. We kind of knew we were racing for second today. Good credit to the team for giving us such a quick car.”
“That’s tough,” Hinchcliffe said. “You go into qualifying having tested a fair amount in qualifying-ish trim. My first run of the month was about four or five degrees less on rear wing than you normally would be.
“I had to kind of pretend I had been here all month and take the feedback my teammates were giving me at face value. I knew what to expect from the car, and that was a huge part of it.
“I was lucky that I don’t remember the accident so I didn’t have any nerves to get over. It was kind of getting back in there and trusting my teammates. I have got some good ones so it made my job easy.”
Team Penske driver Will Power qualified the No. 12 Dallara/Chevrolet on the outside of the front row with a four-lap average of 230.697 mph.
“It’s definitely a good place to start,” Power said. “The further up you are, the better you are. The further inside you are, the better you are. Good starting place. It’s a very long race. Very interesting style of racing, different to any other racing we have all year with the way the draft works. Just have to make sure we run well in traffic and put ourselves in a position at the end of Sunday to win that thing.”
This was the first time a new two-day qualification format was used to determine the starting lineup for the Indianapolis 500. Even though much of Saturday’s action seemed confusing and unnecessary to fans and drivers who didn’t fully understand how it would work, Power thought it created some interest in qualifications.
“I think this format was pretty successful, we had a pretty good crowd both days but it was stressful for the driver,” Power said. “I had to rock up two days in a row to pump out four quick laps here.
“As soon as we got on the track the first day this month, we felt pretty comfortable. We get another day tomorrow to check it out.
“I think it took everybody a little bit of time to work out yesterday the whole two-line thing. From a strategy standpoint, we would have been back in that line a lot sooner had we realized how that all went. You certainly saw us getting knocked down the charts.
“It is tough to have to go back out now. Depending on the downforce level, mind you, I think we were the lightest, Helio Castroneves and I, Josef Newgarden. You know, definitely sliding around a lot.
“That’s racing. You’re put in the seat to do a good job. That’s what it is, stressful, let me tell you.”